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As we all know, green building has really taken shape and increased in popularity in the last few decades. Many choose to build green as a quality of life choice: to ultimately preserve our earth’s natural resources while reducing negative impacts on our environment. 

But WHEN did green building begin? While there are numerous definitions and concepts of green building these days, it’s interesting to examine when this design and idea originated in history.

The earliest recorded relationship between habitat and human health traces back to the Middle Pleistocene, which was around 126,000 years ago. There is evidence of microcharcoal and soot from indoor cave smoke which implies that humans were impacted by control of fire in the indoor environment and the environment generally. These are some of the earliest known examples of the unanticipated and sometimes ill-favored consequences of altering our environment, including the built environment.

Of course, these challenges continued to grow as our human population increased, thus resulting in more energy and resources required for sustenance and economic activity. 

The modern era of green building began in the 1960’s shortly after we began pumping conditioned air into our homes. Perhaps, the advent of air conditioning is what allowed us to separate architectural thoughts from those of the environment.

When I was 16, I took a short course at Northern Arizona University on sustainable building. These were the early days before the term “Green Building” was essentially born. Most of the energy-saving concepts required abandoning modern conveniences. At this point in time, green building was not quite ready for public consumption. 

Three years later, I helped build a house in Travis County that employed 6” exterior walls for increased insulation and had manufactured solar hot water. This is when I truly started to see the new ideas of sustainable building reveal and show up in the residential housing market.  Finally, in 1993, the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) was formed. A year later they came out with their first version of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system came into existence.

Green building focuses on five key areas:

  • Sustainable site development
  • Water savings
  • Energy efficiency
  • Materials selection
  • Indoor environmental quality

Throughout the years, the ideas and techniques +  materials of green building have slowly made their way into the mainstream of homebuilding. Despite an increase in size, the average new American home consumes more than 30% less energy than it did in 1980!

Ten years ago, a home that was considered green, wouldn’t even pass code inspection today. Universally, the overall education + advancement of green building has significantly increased and continues to advance in leaps and bounds.  

Stearns Design Build built the first net-metered solar home in Brazos County in 2007.

Did you know that all of our remodeling projects start with an energy assessment?

Not only do we want to ensure that our company is a leader in the best practices of green building, but also we want to increase the return on investment of your home. Not to mention we’re aiding in conserving our earth’s natural resources. 

Part of our mission is to improve the quality of building stock in Bryan and College Station.  This primarily involves improving energy efficiency and indoor air quality. This includes things such as high-grade materials that are more durable and reducing air leaks. In addition, we use low toxicity materials well suited for our environment and we are strategic about the placement of windows for energy efficiency.